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Meet Joy Heard of Experience Joy in Chicago

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joy Heard.

Joy, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m an Event and Marketing Strategist whose passion is curating unique experiences to shift culture.

Having grown up an introvert, I struggled early on in life to find my place. I never quite felt like I fit into any group. To add pressure, my immediate family were all musicians. And of course, being a musician came along with being in the spotlight of some form. Not quite my style. So the quest began to find how I could not only fit into my family but also how I could fit into the world.

The fortunate part of my upbringing was being a part of a family that embraced creativity and supported taking unconventional routes in life. So I gravitated to that and took comfort in roles that could thrive behind the scenes. Being naturally creative, in high school, I became involved with True Star Magazine through an After School Matters program. True Star opened up a whole new world for me and introduced me to new opportunities. Eventually, I became the Junior Director of the graphic design team, overseeing spread layouts and designs for the feature celebrity stories. At the age of 16, I was a published graphic designer with my work featured in numerous issues of the publication.

I had a real knack for graphic design – but it wasn’t my passion. I initially began at Columbia College Chicago as a Graphic Design major, but after my first year – I wanted to find a way to get back to my musical roots so I switched to Arts, Entertainment, and Media Management. Looking to find student groups that I could belong to, I joined the Black Student Union (BSU). My junior year, I was able to land an internship at Clear Channel Media, now known as iHeart Radio, in their promotions department. This internship completely altered the course of my life – and then it became clear that working in the entertainment/media industry was the right path for me. Working in a fast paced environment and interacting with various markets and clients – I was pushed way beyond my comfort zone – pushed beyond being an introvert. This industry is full of extroverts. Being seen and hear was a prerequisite to being noticed and they were the ones who got the big opportunities. It was during this experience that being an introvert simply would not work.

My senior year at Columbia, I was encouraged by the Director of Multicultural Affairs to take the lead of the organization – so I became President of BSU, all while interning and having a part-time job on campus. I like to think of this period in my life as being a game-changer. Juggling all those roles at once pushed me in ways I could have never imaged. I was able to find my voice and realize my passion for bringing people together and creating experiences that shifted thoughts and culture.

Since then, I have been privileged to work on a lot of different projects, producing events and implementing marketing strategies for numerous companies and non-profit organizations in the city.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Smooth? By no means. The biggest struggle has been (and to this day) trying to get past my own insecurities. Often times we get in our own way and I am no stranger to that. I’ve had many doubts along the way. While I’ve had the opportunity to work on some major projects – there is much more pressure when attempting to take on a project on my own. Having control of the outcome was a bit scary. While there was no shortage of encouragement from friends, family, co-workers, end even my day-one believers, I still sometimes let fear get in my way.

Having also battled with taking on too much at once, thinking that I can do it all – I had some hard lessons this year. It became clear that I needed to find a way to realistically assess my capacity and not to overload myself with work. Of course, like most of us, I want to be a ‘superhero’ for my clients – but it was important for me to learn that quality is ultimately more important than showing off how much I can juggle, especially if I want to have a sustainable business.

2018 was and is a big year for me as I took the leap to launch my brand, Experience Joy. I am learning to conquer what I can, to take small strategic strides, and to use wisdom in all things.

What else should our readers know?
So… I’m super excited to have begun this new journey. ‘Experience Joy’ the brand provides event-based marketing services that seek to align with entrepreneurs, small businesses and creatives, coupling unparalleled experiences to maximize brand impact.

My ability to produce exceptional events stems from a solid educational foundation from Columbia College Chicago, strategic networking skills, intuitive leadership, organization, attention to detail, and dedication to client satisfaction.

Over the past five years, I have successfully developed and implemented event-based creative strategies to increase brand equity for companies such as Art of Culture, Inc (formerly known as Donda’s House), The Black Women’s Expo, Austin Coming Together, and more.

Specifics of my services include event management, event layout & design, event programming, entertainment procurement, artist hospitality & travel, stage management, vendor & contract research/negotiation, and budget management.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There have been many huge advocates in my life. I’m extremely grateful for the support and early cheerleaders such as my parents (Michael & Sheena Heard), Kimberly Weatherly (Director of Multicultural Affairs and BSU Advisor at Columbia), Astin Hayes (Supervisor at Clear Channel Media and Entertainment). Without any of them – I would not have realized what I am capable of. They didn’t allow my comfort zone to be my comfort zone.

My closest friends, Christal Luster (an amazing Singer/Songwriter/Poet/Author) and Amy Sparling (Future Executive Director) continue to push and encourage me to follow my dreams. Your support is unbelievable.

My mentors, Deirdre Bates (Resilience Partners, NFP) and Donnie Smith (Art of Culture, Inc. – formerly known as Donda’s House) have always been in my corner and are always willing to share their vast knowledge with me.

My first official client, Austin Coming Together, has been extremely supportive and gave me my first opportunity to show what I can do. Your trust in my work continues to blow my mind. Words can’t express how grateful I am for giving me a chance.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 773-340-1599
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @experiencejoy_
  • Twitter: @experiencejoy_

Image Credit:
Goodcity Chicago, Austin Coming Together

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